Monday, 28 November 2016

Courts and Tribunals update

The Government has announced concessions which amount to a U-turn in relation to recently introduced increases to Immigration and Asylum Tribunal fees.   

From 25 November  applicants will be charged fees at previous levels and reimbursements of the difference between previous fees and the new (higher) fees will be made.   

The change of heart is to welcomed but it  is disappointing that we have yet to receive any similar news in relation to the level of fees payable to bring claims to Employment tribunals. 

The outcome of the Government’s review of Employment tribunal fees is long-awaited. 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

New faces bring further underwriting experience

It’s fitting that, as we reached our 10th birthday, ARAG UK was also well on its way to hitting the one hundred employee milestone.

It has been a year of growth for ARAG, and the latest recruits to join the team in our Bristol HQ represent an expansion of our underwriting department.

Andy Dyer joins the company as Underwriting Operations Manager, bringing with him more than thirty years’ insurance industry experience, most of which has been gained in the legal expenses sector.

Joining Andy is Ryan Smith, our new ATE Technical Underwriting Manager. Ryan also has plenty of insurance experience, having worked in the industry for over fifteen years, more than half of which has been spent as an ATE Underwriter.

Also new to the team is ATE Technical Underwriter, Tom Hunt. A law graduate, Tom has worked in insurance for over four years, most recently as an Assistant Underwriter.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Motoring on

While other ARAG emergency products may be the focus of attention for many, our motor breakdown products are doing very well and provide a valuable solution to brokers and insurers alike. It is an ideal add on for personal and commercial policyholders alike and sits well as a scheme alongside a motor policy, where it can be extremely cost competitive.

Our flexible and extensive cover can provide UK-only or Europe-wide assistance for roadside repair or the recovery of the vehicle for electrical or mechanical failures and can be tailored to include other areas of cover such as miss-fuelling.

Typically, the majority of breakdowns are attended within 40 minutes and over 75% of these are repaired at the roadside, enabling drivers to continue safely to their destinations. However, where a repair is not possible, the policy cover also includes the cost of alternative travel and overnight accommodation.

Monday, 21 November 2016

CLAF unlikely to open up new path to justice

A working party has determined that a Community Legal Aid Fund (CLAF)  probably won’t work unless sufficiently funded from the outset. The CLAF model involves creating a pool from which funding for legal cases could be drawn, subject to successful claimants forfeiting some of their damages.  (Sound familiar?  Hint…. damages-based contingency fee agreements and success fees payable under conditional fee agreements (No-win –no fee) which are private agreements operated by law firms but in other respects have a similar outcome). The CLAF could be used to plug gaps in litigation funding, for example where CFAs and contingency fee agreements are not available or they could compete against After The Event legal expenses insurance for those who do not have Before The Event.

The working party has concluded that a major problem is finding “seed funding” to commence new cases in advance of revenue being generated.  A further challenge may be to design a scheme that offers acceptable terms to lawyers.  “For profit” and “not for profit” CLAF options are being contemplated and interested parties are invited to complete a survey. Here’s a link to the full article from Litigation Futures  and the CLAF survey.

My own view is that it would be interesting to see some figures on the number and type of cases that could be suitable for CLAF funding on the basis that exisiting funding methods are unavailable;  together with a forecast of the impact that court digitisation is likely to have on current case numbers.  If more disputes can be resolved on- line without the need to engage a lawyer the need for the CLAF model will reduce. There seems to me to be little point in setting up a funding mechanism to compete against ATE and BTE so I believe the CLAF proposition will need to focus on claims that are not picked-up by LEI.  

Finally,  if a CLAF does get the go-ahead it will only ever get off the ground if the public are suitably educated.  This could be a further major challenge. Public awareness of LEI is gaining traction but it has been a slow journey.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Product Development Synergy

Being part of a worldwide group means we can exchange ideas and experience when designing new products.

To this end, ARAG’s product experts from 11 countries attended this year’s Product Workshop which was held in the Netherlands. ARAG UK was represented by Product Development Manager Lesley Attu and Business Insight Analyst Melody Kiernan. 

The opportunity to pool ideas, build networks with European colleagues and exchange knowledge was enriching and delegates were able to bring back some innovative ideas and approaches to develop for the future.  

Going from the general to the particular, participants started by debating the nature of innovation, before getting into the nitty-gritty of novel product design. Germany revealed a new motor LEI product with backdated defence for traffic offences; Spain presented a bundle of cyber protection aimed at young families; Belgium showed how to move from an initial proposition to developing a B2B product in just a week. The valuable interaction of ideas culminated in shared experiences of product features in family covers and concluded with a wrap-up session.